Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tim Couch plays last home game for AHS?

AHS soundly defeated St. Patrick/St. Vincent tonight at home in North Coast Sectional playoff action. By nearly 20 points. "MVP" chants for Tim Couch were started a few times in the game, but this was a blow out from the start. AHS played uninspired ball and still put a hurt on the private school from Vallejo. Not one Tiger played what they would consider, "a good game." I hope they have more left in the tank. It gets harder from here.

Tim lives a few houses down from us, and Robin and I have known him pretty much all of his life. His brother Joey played basketball for me and Timmy started playing competitive basketball for Peninsula School when he was in 2nd grade. Joey was my starting point guard on the Peninsula 8th grade team when he was in 5th grade! And Joey now plays softball with me off and on as late as last year. Their dad Steve has played softball and basketball with me and against for years. So it has been a great joy for Robin and I to watch Timmy excel this year. Timmy was hardened by Samoa boys in athletics. Both of my sons played with and against Tim in neighborhood games. Tim's mom Bonnie was a forceful community mom and verbally made sure all the local kids to allow "Timmy" to participate, even though he was just a "scrub" to the others. And Timmy endured the abuse the "elders" put on him. Joey became a scholarship football player and I hope some college team recruit Tim for either football or basketball. He has the heart of a "tiger!" or lion. Tim will read this and say, "Richard. stop it!"

HSU Senior Night Basketball!

It was the last regular season game for the HSU Men's and Women's Basketball Team. On the Women's side, Katie Franci, Kristina O'Keefe, Trisha Alaba and Jennifer Enos won their game against Cal State Dominguz Hills. The 21 wins on the season are a Humboldt Women's record! Franci just amazes me with her will and hustle on the court. She is going to be hard to replace, but coach Gleason has the tools to have even a better team next year. It is worth the price of admission just to watch Paige Peterson handle the point. And Brittney Taylor is smooth at the post. I just love this team.

The men's team beat CSDH in a hard fought battle, and a lesson on how not to shoot free throws. To the right is walk on Senior Owen Newman giving it his best shot. Overall the Jack's shot 12-34 from the line. Just terrible. I thought coach Tom Woods would have a heart attack. Jameson Figgat was the other Senior playing his last regular season game. Next year the Jack's are loaded up! And they still won 20 games in a rebuilding year!

Robin took this shot of Zac Tiedeman shooting late in the game. Zac played at Santa Rosa JC last year and is a special player. He leads the Jack's in scoring, steals and assists! He shoots nearly 50% from the field, 46% from 3 point land and 89% from the line! He is a freak I tell ya! You have got to see him play at least one time next year. I don't think the Jack's will be playing at home again this year. But the women do next Tuesday! You gotta be there!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Samoasoftball to have wrist Surgery. Out for the year in softball!

No softball. Just take me out back and shoot me.

Last August, I tried to adjust a conveyor slide on one of our chip dividers. It is an old antiquated piece of equipment that should have been modified years ago. We were in a production hurry mode and I tried to pull the slide into position on the run. I had to literally lean over a railing, balancing in a awkward position and pull a 100 lb plus slide, backhand. And when I did it, something in my wrist gave out. I thought I sprained it, but the pain would not go away. So I went to the workers compensation office to get a X-ray exam. Dr. Kushner checked out my hand and wrote a prescription for a wrist brace, and wrote to Evergreen to put me on "light duty" with a weight lifting restriction limit of 10 pounds. I told him we do not have light duty, and that I was capable of doing my regular duties. "Whose the doctor here?" he asked. I took the paperwork to our HR person, and sure enough, I was put on disability. This did not make me happy, as I usually made my big Overtime Dollars during hunting season.

Lo and behold, in October the mill shut down and I had still not been approved for physical therapy. I could not turn my wrist without pain, to just do normal stuff like turn a key to start my car. I could push off and pull straight, but could not hold a bat or throw a ball. I was assigned to see a surgeon at Humboldt Orthopedic, but right before my appointment, I was told they would not see me because of the worker's comp claim. I finally was referred to Dr Lyell in Arcata. November and December came and went and I still had not been approved for any treatment! I was finally approved for an MRI and that exam revealed a cartilage tear. Dr. Lyell wanted to pinpoint the "hole" left by the tear with an "Arthrogram". Dr. Moore from St Joe did that procedure, and that hurt! They stuck a few needles straight down in my wrist and then positioned a huge needle to pump and dye into my wrist to show where it was "leaking."

Dr. Lyell informed me of the need for surgery. He said he did not feel comfortable handling this procedure and he thought nobody locally could do this confidentially. So he has referred me to a Dr. Stephen P. Ferraro in Redding. I am now waiting for approval for the surgery. Dr. Kushner is also referring me out. I just want to be done with this and my wrist back to normal. And that means ball worthy! (Oh, yeah, and work worthy too.) If I have the surgery in April, Dr. Lyell said I will have a 3 to 4 month recovery time, so I may not be able to play until August!

I know that most would say, so who cares! But I have played, on average at least 80 games of softball per year for 30 plus years, so yes, this has altered my life. All you have to do is read the header for this blog to know what it means to me. Samoasoftball is down for the count!

And I am bummed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Humboldt Power Couple leave HCDCC!

Greg and Carol Ann Conners, the #8 ranked Humboldt County Power Couple, have stepped down from the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee HCDCC due to personal reasons. Ouch! Carol was on the executive board and Greg was a past executive board member. There are now two 1st District seats available on the HCDCC. If your County Supervisor in Jimmy Smith, we have two positions in need of help!

They will be greatly missed. I am bummed out about this.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..." says Alberta, Canada?

Alberta, Canada is recruiting our workforce. The San Francisco Chronicle had a big ad last weekend, calling for experienced tradesmen. Too cold for me, but you other Humboldt County youngsters may want to have the experience. The job market doesn't look good locally for many manufacturing types. Just click on the link for all the information you need.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bailing out Homebuyers even though 92% are paying their mortgages timely? Are we rewarding bad behavior?

That is right, 92% of U.S. mortgage payers are not behind in their payments! Why is my liberal heart not all that excited over this bailout predicament? Is it because Robin and I have been responsible and have lived within our means most of the time? Maybe somewhat. But as a taxpayer, I feel we need to take a closer look at this. Maybe we as a nation are being too reactionary.

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan does have particular weird discrepancies for us California residents. Under the Federal tax plan, you can buy a new or existing home and get an $8,000 tax credit. Under the California state tax plan, you can get a tax credit of $10,000 for buying only a new home. This, of course, is planned to spur new house construction. But what of those hundreds of thousands of houses that have been foreclosed on? Lot's of questions still on the horizon.

Here is something that I find strange. Neither Robin and I nor any of my three brothers and five sisters are eligible for this mortgage bailout. Or my many nieces and nephews. I can go to my in law's side and can't come up with anybody I know of. I have many friends in Humboldt County, but can only think of a few that will qualify. I just wonder how many Humboldt County residents will be able to take advantage of this bail out. Any ideas?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Arcata boys/Mck Girls win Niclai titles!

Why hold an event this big and have only one money taker? There needed to be at least 2! And the venue was the new Lumberjack gym. They could have charged 10 dollars for the reserved seating and 7 for general and made another $3,000 dollars. The acoustics at the new gym are terrible. I mentioned this to Dan Collen and he said HSU will be addressing this soon.

The McKinleyville girl’s basketball team rallied late in the 4th Quarter against Fortuna to tie the game behind Sage Romberg’s two high pressure free throws. In overtime Mack took control. It was a well played game by both teams. Too bad one of these teams had to lose.

Hey Timmy Couch! Made it to the big time! As big as it gets in Humboldt High School Basketball. And you have the flu. Bummer. But you played well!

SBH boys played a great game. Had the lead at half time over a really betterAHS team. Coach Steve Thrap has them playing way over their potential. Ayres is just a great, never ending energy source. I have been told that he is the best short stop in Humboldt baseball history. I argued that no one is better than Mark Bateson in his prime. I will have to watch more SBH baseball games this year.

Here is a great shot of Ryan DeHart going to the rack. Just a fun night to watch a game. Perry Price told me before this game that AHS would win by 15. They won by 17. And Perry was rooting for SBH.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pulp Mill workers may lose Pension! Bad news again!

Our Defined Benefit Pension program is in danger of being turned over to the Federal Government in the near future. Milliman Inc. is the carrier and the phone number to contact is 1-503-227-0634. If you are at least 55 years of age and have 30 years of service or a combination that equals 85, please contact them and start the process to start collecting funds.

Our Defined Benefit Package may be turned over to the feds to manage. If that happens then the feds will convert it over to annuities. When that happens those who are not actively collecting will get a reduced amount on what they had coming come retirement time. It would be wise for those who can start collecting on that account to do so now. There are only two trustees left on that account. They are David Tsang and Sam Wong. The way the process works is if you wish to start collecting on that account you need to contact one of the trustees and tell them you wish to start the paper work and they will call our administrator to get things rolling. David’s number is 707-496-0089 and Sam’s is 707-496-0438.

Some of you may be management now that were hourly a few years ago. Be sure to call to check on your status quickly!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

McKinleyville Staring at a 30% increase in their water bill if Pulp Mill stays closed!

Thomas Marking stated that he is preparing his McKinleyville Community Services District board for a potential 30% increase to water customers if the pulp mill does not come to a resolution with the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District for a long term contract.

Samoa Acquisition Corporation (SAC) head, Robert Simpson, presented a check to the water board and said he had come to a temporary lease agreement with the district that was to be finalized today. SAC is prepared to pay $21,230 per month until April 30. On May 1st, a new long term agreement is supposed to be in place, or another short term agreement might take place. If the water district does not make concessions, SAC is prepared to put a plug at the end of the outfall line until they are prepared to start the mill. Mr. Simpson's feels it is unfair to charge full price before the pulp mill is generating any revenue. He also made it clear that he does not have a definite timeline when the mill could be restarted, because of economic situations beyond his control. One example he gave was the situation with Southcoast Lumber. Their mill relies on the pulp mill buying residual chips to the tune of 4 million dollars a year, and are currently running only 1 week a month, with their chippers completely shut down. (Marking pointed out that each job lost at the pulp mill affects 6 workers down the line in the economy, or 1,200 workers.)

Director Bruce Rupp was adamant that he wants to see the pulp mill be successful, and that was the consensus with the rest of the water board.

Quick notes:

Bob Simpson said that it will take a credit line of 50 million dollars to start the mill.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have to be dealt with, concerning the limits of Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD's) discharge into the ocean. The first hurdle will be a California Regional Water Quality Control Board North Coast Region Meeting in Santa Rosa on March 12th.

Assuming the facts that water costs run the pulp mill 1% to 2% of the cost to run the mill, and the water bill runs about $150,000 per month, the costs to run the plant is around 180 million to 360 million a year. That means the pulp mill would have to average 600 ton a day and pulp would have to be selling for $825 a ton to make a profit at the low number.

No banks are financing this project. There are 3 main stakeholders. Don Nolan from Fortuna has been identified as one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Special Water Board Meeting, Wednesday 9am.

The agenda is small. I do not know what all will be covered. But if you are interested, be there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

AHS vs EHS Basketball! Big game night!

Packed House at Arcata High tonight. AHS playing Eureka High for the outright Big 5 Championship, and a bye in the Niclai Tournament. It was a packed house and a line went around the building to get in! When is the last time that happened? Arcata won their first Championship in years! They scored 28 points in th 1st quarter! Conor Byrnes and Jordan Semple had great starts. Greg Allen and Tim Couch pretty much set the pace later in the game. Arcata had this one in the bag from the start. I hope they both square off in the Niclai Championship at HSU this weekend!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cutten wins Blue Lake 6th Grade Tournament! Freshwater in Second! Coaches complain to ref without knowing rules. Nothing new.

The ref being me. I had a coach yelling at me because a player for Blue Lake shot the ball against Coastal Grove Charter school, and just so happened to rebound the ball without it hitting the rim and shot again. Many players, casual fans and coaches don't realize that as long as the refs determine the ball was shot at the basket, it is free to any player on the court to rebound, even the shooter. I went and tried to explain this to the coach, who pretty much told me I did not know what I was talking about, and something about how many basketball games he had been associated with. I was a little offended, as I have coached over 25 years at all grades through 8th. Well over 500 games! And I have refereed all ages including adults and also trained new officials while directing leagues and tournaments for B-Ball.

Oh well, one bad apple coach don't spoil the whole bunch. All the other coaches were well behaved and had fun at the tournament. The Blue Lake School District and City of Blue Lake Recreation Department did a great job organizing volunteers to make this event a success.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bruce Rupp: " "For all I care, they can shut down the mill!"

Now that I have your attention, Bruce said this out of frustration of not having a representative from Samoa Acquisition present at the meeting to discuss a temporary contract with the water district. He wanted to make it clear to the press and public that the Water Board was going up and above being fair in allowing for a temporary reduced rate of $21,230 per month, which is the price the district has to shell out to deliver 3 million gallons.

Board members were also not happy with an e-mail from Bob Simpson sent to Carol Rische that was made public, outlining Bob's plan to only pay $15,000 per month. They felt it was too demanding.

Where were the Pulp Mill workers? I was the only one there. Guess no one really cares anymore? Might be time to dust off those resumes people.

Water Board Meeting Today!

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Board meets today. Here is the Agenda. Evergreen issue is on 10:30am. For those who care.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pitchers and Catchers Report! New Adult Baseball League in Humboldt County!

There will be a National Adult Baseball Association (NABA) organizational meeting at the Adorni Center in Eureka on February 26, at 6pm. This is for hardball baseball players at least 18 years of age and older. League is tentatively scheduled to start in early June, 2009. For more information, contact Richard Marks at (707) 445-3432 or by e-mail at Individuals can also register on-line at Full teams encouraged to participate.

I am basically trying to push start a potential adult baseball program. There is no easy avenue for adults to play hardball once they are over 18 years of age, unless they play legion or semi-pro. This will give the another option. Many just forget about it and play slow-pitch softball.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sarah Palin and Elisabeth Hasselbeck view about Wolves is wrong. And Whoopi Goldberg shows her ignorance too!

The View tackled a story about Ashley Judd's commercial attacking Sarah Palin's support of the shooting of wolves to cull the packs from the air. This action theoretically let's Caribou proliferate. Unfortunately, the whole View crew should have read up on how wolves affect an the total ecosystem. Palin has not been using science to back her program. Whoopi leaves you wondering where her head is at. She makes claims of being familiar with the need to cull certain animals to help them from life experience. Hasselback just spews ignorance in pretty much every topic she covers, and doesn't disappoint this time.

But here is some wolf facts they don't consider:

In a pack of wolves, only the Alpha Male and Females are allowed to breed. The others in the Pack help hunt and raise the pups of the pack. So if you kill the stronger males or females, you are basically weakening the whole pack. (Sterilization is not the answer either, as the weaker will then mate.) Instead of the strongest and smartest leading, you’ll have inexperienced, weaker wolves in charge.

With a weaker wolf hunting base, elk and Caribou herds will lose the natural predator that keeps the sick and weak from overwhelming and weakening the herds. At the same time, hunters will be taking down the strong elk, leaving the herds heavy with weak sick animals.

Wolves do not hunt the strong bull elk that humans prefer to hunt. They go after young, wounded and sickly animals. By taking them out of the equation, you are not ensuring there are more animals for hunters to hunt, but rather ensuring that there won’t be desirable animals to hunt in the future.

Back in 1983 there was a movie called Never Cry Wolf that touched on this issue years ago.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

CR Men's Basketball! This is a good team!

Went to watch College of the Redwoods lose a close game to Feather River College. It was a good, high energy, fast paced game. Five of the CR players are from the HDL. EHS alumni Tim Pratt is one of the best players in the GVC and plays really good ball. One of the surprises on the team is Ren Bettendorf of Mckinleyville. His game has improved big time. If he was High School Basketball this year, he would be a dominate force in the HDL. Feather River College at Quincy seems to be a weird place for all of these out of town players. (Only 2 players on the FR roster are from California.) Hey, isn't that Alan Mendes reffing yet another game?

I was glad to see CR cheerleaders back in action. It adds to the event. The crowd was not large, but they were spirited. After the loss Robin and I went to Pizza and drinks at Big Louie's. Great Pizza and good atmosphere.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bob Simpson pulls it off! Samoa Aquisition Company new Pulp Mill owner! AWPPW Local 49 now proud owners of wood chipper!

It sounds like all the paper work is in order and Bob Simpson was able to pull this deal together. The Water Board let the deadline extend until tomorrow at 10am. But this deal is pretty much finalized. Good news!

Yesterday our local met and we heard the deal our Union Standing Committee was able to make with David Tsang and Mr. Simpson. Evergreen agreed to pay up to $300,000 in outstanding medical bills that have been charged to workers who thought they were covered. The 8 Workers that were owed over $43,000 in wages were able to bargain $30,000. (That is alot better than .25 cents on the dollar if we forced them into bankruptcy with a wage injunction.) And the rest of the wage issue was bargained by the local taking possession of Evergreen's last physical asset, a wood chipper. Bob Simpson let our local know that he wants to bargain a contract and have an agreement in place before we start up. (Within 60-90 days hopefully. The media report was 100 to 120 days.)

And that, my dear people, is why you have a union! Without the leverage of legal counsel through the AWPPW, we would have had to try to fight individually for our rights and would have been left holding the bag!

Now let us all go back to work in a orderly manner in the near future.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thursday, Feb 4th at 5pm is D-Day for Evergreen Pulp. What then?

If the Samoa Acquisition Company does not close escrow tomorrow at 5pm, the Pulp Mill will most likely fall into bankruptcy. That will be all folks. That will pretty much close the chapter on the plant.

Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Director Tera Prusha reported yesterday at the Special Water Board meeting that Assembly member Wes Chesbro had spoken publicly about turning the plant into a recycle center. (Huh? What kind of recycle plant?) Director Bruce Rupp asked if Wes was drinking when he made that statement. Tera also asked about the zoning aspects of the property and what permits were transferable. (Chesbro Field Rep Andrew Bird e-mailed this follow-up: Tera may have misunderstood a conversation with Wesley. Wesley remembers having a conversation with Tera in which he recalled to her back in the 1990s when the Simpson Mill closed he had attempted to facilitate locating a recycled paper plant at the mill site. There was a company looking to locate a plant to produce paper from recycled materials in California. The company was looking at West Sacramento, but was having permitting problems. So Wesley held some talks with that company and the Simpson Mill folks about locating the plant in Samoa at the Simpson site, which had an existing water supply and port access. The talks didn’t go anywhere.)

There is the possibility that Evergreen can restructure after bankruptcy and restart the plant at a later date. Not very likely.

No other potential buyers seem to be out there. So I am sure the water will be shut off and the ratepayers will take the burden of the $200,000 per month shortfall. (With 80,000 customers a raise of $3 per month would generate $240,000. That should cover it, right?)

Let us hope that Bob Simpson can pull this sale off. Looks like the only hope now.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Waterboard held Hostage by Evergreen! Makes difficult choice.

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District board had their backs to the wall today at a special water board meeting concerning Evergreen Pulps past due water bill. Evergreen CEO David Tsang was expected to be present and give Evergreen's position. Once again, he did not show up.

Prospective plant purchaser Bob Simpson relayed a message from Tsang that Evergreen was willing to make a partial payment through the prospective buyer of $230,000 for the past due water bill. Mr. Simpson made it perfectly clear that he was not representing Evergreen and was only passing on information. He let all know publicly that Evergreen/David Tsang was making deals with all of their lien holder/creditors for a portion of their debts. Mr. Simpson compared this type of sale as the transaction between Stockton Pacific and Evergreen, when the purchase price was 2 million dollars.

Unfortunately, the public entity of the HBMWD was asked to publicly make a commitment to lower the obligation of the pulp mill. Our local union was scheduled to have a meeting with Tsang and Simpson later the same day to come to a resolution to our financials issues.

(Hey, you naysayers on the ESOP buyout. The board voted to accept partial payment. Evergreen grossed over $500,000,000 in 3 years and paid 40 million in upgrades? Nearly 1/2 Billion dollars of raw resources leaving the US and going to Asia? And we could have bought the mill for 2 million? Shame on you!) This, of course, is my personal, on going reminder this could have been the workers mill.

There are obviously many hoops for the Samoa Acquisition Group to jump through. I am sure I speak for most of the workers hoping for the best for a smooth transition. I see many obstacles in the near future and hope all prospective workers keep involved.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Yes, Yet another Special Water Board Meeting for Evergreen. Tuesday Feb 3rd at 11am.

828 7th Street, Eureka

Agenda for Special Meeting of Board of Directors

February 3, 2009 11:00a.m.




1. Wholesale Water Contract with Industrial Customer (Evergreen Pulp):
a. Status report re: payment default and possible sale of the mill;

b. Consideration and possible approval to implement additional default remedies, up to and including termination of water service;

c. Consideration and possible approval to release portion of existing liens (conditioned on certain information being presented to the District by Evergreen and/or prospective buyer);

d. Consideration of possible short-term water service arrangement to the mill if prospective buyer is successful in purchasing the mill;

2. Wholesale Water Contracts More Generally

a. Status report regarding notice to wholesale Municipal Customers re: possible loss of mill and need to restructure wholesale water contracts Discussion regarding work plan to address potential loss of the mill

AWPPW Local 49 President Tom Reilly would like as many members of local 49 to be there as possible. Please show up if you can.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

HSU Basketball. Were you there? 1.5% of Humboldt County was.

Perry Price and I joined nearly 2,000 people in watching HSU Women's and Men's Basketball against UC San Diego. The new gym is really nice, but sure seemed to be on the commercialized side. Big corporate sponsorships, Season Ticket frills, canned entertainment and just ritzy glitz that was not present at the East Gym. Just a canned entertainment feel.

But what games we witnessed. UCSD wiped out an 8 point deficit with only 1:20 left on the clock! Not only did they hit a buzzer beater to tie up the game and send it into overtime, Freshman star Chelsea Carlisle hit a blind bank shot in overtime at the buzzer to win it! The huge crowd was shocked, but you could feel the momentum turn. HSU Point Guard Paige Peterson had a game she would like to forget. She had 3 cheapy fouls in the first half. The last was one of those of grade school level type. She threw a pass that was intercepted and followed the girl on a fast break and predictably fouled her while she made a lay up and then made the free throw. I could see she was going to foul the girl from the time the UCSD girl stole it. I am surprised Jodie Gleason did not scream for her to not foul. With Paige on the bench, the turnovers mounted continually. Katie Franci was a monster on the boards, but it was usually rebounding her own misses. She had trouble finishing. But she sure hustled all the way. Paige and Katie both fouled out. Brittney Taylor played a great game. Freshman Center/Forward Bree Halsey is a bright spot for the future.

HSU Men playing Hoopsters rules?

Perry and I were really surprised to see coach Tom Wood using a 5 man platoon at each 5 minute mark in the game they won. Seems to me the players would lose the flow and play erratic, inconsistent ball. That did not seem to be the case, as the second team seemed to energize the game as they were lead by 5-5" freshman spark plug David Broome. Zac Tiedeman is one of the most confident players I have seen for HSU, with game to back his brashness. He put the team on his back and led them to victory, even though he was having a tough shooting night. I was impressed. Overall it was a good experience, and I had a chance to catch up with many people I have not seen in awhile. After all, almost everyone I knew was there!